With summer comes patio drinks, soaking up sunshine at the beach, sitting around a campfire in the woods or just escaping responsibilities and hanging out at home. Strangely, people find themselves bored, too, despite all of the things to do.
The weather during this time of year also provides the perfect excuse to take a break from reality, especially if the temperature starts to climb. What’s better than relaxing in a cool, air-conditioned room and taking in a few summer movies?
From summertime spoofs to summer camp classics, this list of movies spans comedy, adventure and — miscellaneous. Here are 13 summer movie favourites, in no particular order.
1. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
This slasher-suspense film has a cast full of ’90s heartthrobs and was a huge box office success. Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe, the group of friends is looking forward to spending summer together.
The teens start drinking and having a good time, but on their way home they accidentally run over a fisherman and kill him. They all decide it’s best to not report the accident to the police, so they dump his body into the water. A year later they begin getting harassed by a hook-wielding killer who begins to tear apart their lives. OK, so it’s more horror than fun, but hey, if you want ’90s references aplenty and hot young thangs in wet T-shirts, this is right up your alley. — KT
2. Dazed and Confused (1993)
This 1993 high-school movie makes everyone who watches it want to throw caution to the wind, crank up some music and party the night away. Set on May 28, 1976, on the last day of school, this movie tells a timeless coming-of-age story that defines what it means to be a teenager.
The upperclassmen haze the incoming freshmen, but everyone comes together for the party at the Moon Tower as they celebrate the beginning of summer. The Dazed and Confused Moon Tower party has gone down in history for being the party, and it would be fun to estimate how many teens thought they could possibly recreate the magic of the ’70s kegger. — KT
3. The Parent Trap (1998)
This remake of The Parent Trap (1961) stars Lindsay Lohan as a pair of twins named Annie and Hallie, who were separated at birth. The pair meet on summer vacation at Camp Walden and decide to swap lives to try and reunite their divorced parents, played by Dennis Quaid and the late Natasha Richardson.
Hallie and Annie first meet at the end of a fencing match, when they remove their masks and realize that they look exactly alike. This movie has it all: pranks, a cool handshake, haircuts and piercing ears using an apple. It’s also bittersweet to see how great young Lindsay Lohan was at acting. — KT
4. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
This movie takes place at fictional Camp Firewood in the early ’80s, and includes all the bizarre camp counsellors that you’d expect to see in a classic summer movie. A lot of famous actors starred in Wet Hot American Summer before they became A-listers, including Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks and Amy Poehler.
This satirical comedy isn’t for the kiddies, though: there’s a lot of sex talk, innuendo, and basically every person in the cast is lusting after someone else. We suppose that is what happens when you’re at camp.
An upcoming Netflix series, Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, is scheduled to be released on Aug. 4, and it’s meant to be a sequel to the film. (The prequel TV series Wet Hot Summer: First Day of Camp, was released in 2015.) The new series will consist of eight episodes and will bring back Banks, Rudd, Poehler, Kristen Wiig and many more of the original cast. — KT
5. Grease (1978)
For the two people on Earth who don’t know, Grease is a musical romantic comedy following the life of Rydell High School students Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) in the late 1950s. The pair meet in the summer at a beach while Sandy is vacationing from Australia, and they have a summer fling.
When Sandy’s parents decide to move to the U.S., she enrols at Rydell and is reunited with Danny, much to his chagrin. After all, he’s got a reputation to uphold, especially with dance moves like this.
The T-Birds and Pink Ladies all sing around Danny and Sandy’s romance with hit songs like Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’ and We Go Together. One of the all-time classics, Grease will continue to live on at karaoke bars until the end of time. — KT
6. The Notebook (2004)
Allie’s parents get in the way of their romance, and Noah eventually enlists to go to war. Seven years later — spoiler alert! — the pair are reunited and despite having taken different paths, they find themselves unable to resist a second chance together.
This movie will make you want to hop on a Ferris wheel or watch the traffic lights change while resting flat on your back in the middle of the road. In between bouts of wailing or crying, of course. — KT
7. Friday the 13th (1980)
This classic 1980 slasher film tells the story of a group of teenagers (these teens, always getting into trouble) murdered by an unknown killer while attempting to re-open an abandoned campground called Camp Crystal Lake.
In 1957, a young boy named Jason drowned in a lake near the Camp Crystal Lake site, and he’s back to terrorize.
This horror movie will surely make you second-guess your summer plans to head to camp, with its streak of brutal murders and massacres that take place on its grounds. — KT
8. Jaws (1974)
During a hot summer on Amity Island, Sheriff Martin Brody discovers the remains of a shark attack victim. He wants to close the beaches to swimmers, but the mayor disagrees.
The sheriff backs down, but that weekend a young boy is killed by the predator. The boy’s mother puts a bounty on the shark and soon the beach is swarmed with hunters and fisherman hoping to cash in on the reward.
Steven Spielberg’s classic film, based on Peter Benchley’s Jaws novel, has inspired generations of unwarranted, irrational shark fear and will have you thinking twice about swimming in the ocean this summer. — KT
9. The Great Outdoors (1988)
Chet Ripley (John Candy) thinks he’s taking his family up north for a relaxing, bonding vacation in the wilderness. Unfortunately, his arrogant, wealthy brother-in-law (Dan Aykroyd) shows up unexpectedly, and the trip takes a surprising turn.
Some standout scenes involve a bat, a persistent bear and a gigantic steak. Candy is at his funniest here, and The Great Outdoors can easily trigger nostalgic memories of how simple comedy, not grotesque, over-the-top comedy, used to be enough to entertain audiences. Added bonus to this film: two hilarious Canadians own the lead roles. — CJ
10. Stand By Me (1986)
What’s summer without this coming-of-age drama about four boys who head out on a search for a dead body? Sure, it sounds horrific and it’s based on Stephen King’s novella The Body, but there are many, many heartwarming and comedic moments to be had.
No boy (or man) anywhere will ever forget the leech scene, and the part where the boys outrun a fast-moving train is one for the ages. It’s a trip every time to see a young Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell and Corey Feldman before they grew into adults, too. — CJ
11. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
This movie couldn’t be more ’80s — or more teenager-y — if it tried. Focusing on a group of teens from Southern California, the movie is a supposed chronicle of Cameron Crowe’s real-life experiences. (He wrote the script and the book that inspired the film.)
With pubescent concerns the order of the day, the movie is a collection of silly vignettes in and out of school and by the pool. Of course, there is much talk of losing one’s virginity, smoking pot, teen pregnancy and the ’80s standard of topless women. See it for Spicoli (a very young Sean Penn). — CJ
12. Major League (1989)
Arguably one of the best baseball movies of all time, the boys of summer on this Cleveland Indians team are misfits, miscreants and straight-up criminals. Chock-full of swearing and raunchiness, Major League is a ball, even for those who hate baseball.
Charlie Sheen is Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, an out-of-control pitcher who’s trying to make his way in the world, Tom Berenger is the veteran player trying to get a World Series ring on his finger, and Wesley Snipes is Willie Mays Hayes, a speedy base-stealer with a fast-talking mouth. There’s plenty of foul language (an understatement), so beware with the kiddies. — CJ
13. The Goonies (1985)
This ’80s classic will make you want to hop on your BMX bike and head into the forest for an adventure. The Goonies mastered the formula of the ensemble kid-dramedy that is so widely copied in modern cinema and TV — it’s the original template they’re all working from.
The magic is in the story, where the kids band together to find a way to save their oceanfront community. After finding a treasure map, the group heads out in search of a missing pirate ship. Along the way, there’s a long-dead pirate, a group of criminals on the group’s tail, and that insane cave waterslide that every kid at the time wanted to try themselves. — CJ
See? Summer’s not that bad, right?